I ventured south to the big city this past weekend and it was an eye-opener indeed. Up here in the hills of Mendocino, we live in a bubble that is both beautiful and benign. Other than fundamental disagreements with some local authorities, our lives are mostly blessed with friendly neighbors and gentle deer, turkey and rabbits. We live off the grid in our own valley of tall ancient trees and a garden where we grow cannabis.
One could say we are well insulated, but we also stay connected through our satellite dish. After all, both Swami and I are city people originally and have inquiring minds. We may live at the end of a very very long dirt road, yet thanks to the internet we can follow the news from the rest of the world. But we have no television and plug in only when we want to, not as a natural reaction. Of course I have also been following the recent political shake-ups in our country and the world and am just as wary of the upcoming four years as all my friends, but I just can’t let it take over my life.
I believe that election night in November was a defining moment for most Americans. In years to come, people will ask: “Where were you when Trump won?” We will all remember that night, when our personal and global worlds were shaken by the reality that there were a whole lot of Americans out there who think very differently than we do. Plus, uncertainty suddenly loomed ahead. This would not be the same old Clinton or Bush show, but something all together new and quite frightening in its unfamiliarity.
It is this fear that I felt so strongly when in the city this past weekend. In sharp contrast to the twinkling holiday lights everywhere, between the sounds of laughter and corny Christmas music at parties and in crowded shops, people couldn’t hide their reservations. It seemed that most conversations quickly drifted towards the questions we all have, and before I knew it, I felt my self sinking into their fear. The negativity was thick. While the choir sung “Peace On Earth, Goodwill to Men,” I could sense that very few people around me saw that as a real possibility. As I said, it was an eye-opener.
I grew up in San Francisco, in a time of peace and love and big smiles on sunny days. So what is the cause of this massive mind change over the past 50 years? The common denominator may be the television news. The world has become a much smaller place thanks to the telegraph, then the telephone, then the radio, then television and now the internet. Fifty years ago people didn’t worry as much about what was happening on the other side of the planet, but now it’s all right in their living rooms. Being compassionate creatures, it is natural to become involved, and stressed. In some cases, it can be favorable, when someone actually takes up the cause and sends money or goes and helps or does whatever can be done constructively. But how often is that possible? Not all of us can make it to Standing Rock. So while we send the good vibes, we suffer the stress, the cause of so much illness.
The first couple of weeks post-election night were tough and like many distraught people, I found myself often crying and frustrated. When Jeff Sessions was appointed attorney general I literally shook from fear, thinking personally about what may become of the cannabis industry. It hurts to see our country go backwards.
Genuine fear seems to be the common feeling among my circle of friends in the city — at least the ones who watch lots of television. Television has its tricks (I worked in TV for a couple of years back in the early ’90s) and we all know the use of repetition embeds information deeply into our psyches. So when a person watches the newscasts over and over each day, they are exposed to the same information so many times that it becomes believable, frightening and counter-productive.
So what’s my message here? Encourage positive vibes to counter the negative fear all about us. I am not talking about denial — knowledge is one of our best friends — but rather a sense of detachment which enables action to be positive and progressive. Fear can smother, while detachment may free the spirit to continue to grow. Whatever we do, we can’t give up. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but it is fear.” If we can communally release the fear, and the hate, we will have full power.
Being involved in local cannabis politics has taught me a lot and, at the same time, confused me more than ever. It never ceases to amaze me how politicians can straight up lie. Something that seems so obvious, that cannabis is medicine and should be available to everyone in the country, is opaque to certain leaders if they choose to be blind. Again, I am reminded of Gandhi’s quote, and try to swallow both the fear and the hate. It’s impossible to move forward with both of them cramping my style.
What the future holds for us as this New Year rolls in is anyone’s guess. While positive thinking may not cure the world’s woes in all the ways we would like, it certainly can relieve some of the stress which encumbers so many right now. Cannabis is also a great stress reliever, and the combo is even better! My prayer is that we all look towards the light in 2017, and truly be full of peace and goodwill towards men.
TELL US, how are you staying positive in the New Year?